Summoner's Tales
Dallas, USStarplex Amphitheatre

Sting, where is thy depth?

Sting is one of the few performers that's capable of incorporating gloomy emotion and fun-soaked frolic into a concert.

Last night at the Starplex Amphitheater, the former lead singer for the Police not only alternately friendlied and depressed himself in front of the 13,000-plus audience, he made the Starplex swarmers share in his emotions.

When he was happy, they were happy, showing their affection toward the singer by balleting and outwardly singing about. And when Sting was solemn, the audience stood (or rather sat) still, humming along, or in some cases yawning along.

For the majority of the 2.5 hour show, though, everyone was happy. But it wasn't always like this.

Sting's studio work has become lyrically and musically defected from album to album, axing such brain quandaries like world sociology and governmental economics. Y'know - boring junk.

His latest record, 'Ten Summoner's Tales', a follow-up to 'Soul Cages', an album Sting wrote under the influence of his father's death, is a sort of spiritual and musical reawakening - a constant, positive morale he flexed throughout the show.

The majority of last evening's material came from 'Summoner's', such as 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' and 'Love is Stronger than Justice', elastic-pop songs that mirror Sting's new ''Life is Great'' songwriting policy, as well as his furry vocals.

Although undetrimental, streaming with the Police for more than a decade has taken its toll on Sting's lungs. His voice was once cold and harsh, gritty and gruesome.

Now it's sedate and warm, which brought an new, unharmful sound to the Police songs 'Roxanne' and 'King of Pain'.

Obvious as it was that the stiff-haired singer was going to gloat in such antiquated material, his face-to-face renditions of 'Synchronicity II', 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and a less-interesting, more banal version of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life' were not performed by way of musical cliche-ism.

Rather, Sting used his three-piece backup band - drummer Vinnie Colaluta, guitarist Dominic Miller and keyboardist David Sancious - to add new light and entitlement to the old material, as well as the new. Most memorable moment: a lengthy jam-a-gram of 'When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around', which featured Sting and cheeky ivory idealist Sancious bartering instrumental anger.

Sting ducked most of his moodier, early solo material - 'Soul Cages', 'Fortress Around Your Heart', etc., the only setback of the evening. Besides the opening band - dada, a trio of costume-pop losers who had to cover a Neil Diamond song just to get any applause.

(c) The Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Malcom Mayhew

Stylish Sting - Veteran pop star keeps excesses to a minimum in solid survey of career...

For most of Sting's 90-minute show Saturday night at the Starplex Amphitheatre, the prince of pretence checked his ego at the stage door and delivered an entertaining survey of his career that emphasised the jazzy pop songs from his latest album, 'Ten Summoner's Tales'.

He and three sidemen also performed a number of songs that Sting wrote when he was the lead singer for the Police, the new wave/reggae trio that first brought him to prominence in 1979. With such irresistible melodies, it was easy to forgive the occasional bombast and jazz noodling that have marked the worst aspects of the 41-year-old's solo career.

Sting shook his hips for the appreciative audience of about 10,000 and even emerged without a shirt for the encores. But for the most part, he let his strong, smoky rasp and the band's tight professionalism speak for themselves.

Wearing a billowing white poet's blouse and black pants, he opened the concert with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You', his current pop hit.

Keyboardist David Sancious was the most visible player, adding lightning quick piano and organ solos to a number of tunes. The well-paced set hit its stride after a ponderous version of The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life', which Sting and band put through a jazz-pop blender until it lost all its gutsy edge. 'Fields of Gold' featured a Spanish guitar intro by Dominic Miller, a motif he would reprise several times. The song was an underplayed gem that left breathing room for the adult pop of 'Synchronicity II'.

The infectious melodies of the Police's 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Roxanne' had most of the crowd on its feet. The mellow mood continued on the ballads 'It's Probably Me' and 'Shape of My Heart', both from the new album.

On 'Love Is Stronger Than Justice', Sting, Mr. Miller, Mr. Sancious and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta created the perfect marriage between pop and jazz-rock. The choruses were reminiscent of the Police's later frothy work, while the verses allowed Sting to practice his fusion.

But such songs as 'Englishman in New York' and 'Seven Days' were middle-of-the-road fusion dreck that approached the boorishness of new age. In the end, Sting's restraint and his ability to write catchy pop melodies won out over the few indulgences.

When the opening band, Dada, prefaced its hit Dizz Knee Land with an arena-rock reworking of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline', the West Coast trio acknowledged the musical contradictions at work in '90s pop. Over drummer Phil Leavitt's marching, martial beat, bassist Joie Calio and guitarist Michael Gurley layered ethereal two-part harmonies that were even wimpier than Mr. Diamond's original vocal. Throughout its 35-minute set, Dada played a dreamy update of driving '60s garage-psychedelia that would occasionally veer into jazzy instrumental passages or distorted guitar solos that owed a debt to Jimi Hendrix. The vocal harmonies ranged from wispy on the ballad 'Timothy' to whiny and pleading on the dream pop of 'Surround'.

(c) The Dallas Morning News by Manuel Mendozal